Chaun Martin: I would say I tend to dress up whenever I go out socially, but I definitely get “dandy” when I really step out on the town! I don’t go to formal events all the time, but when I em cee parties (www.chocolatenwine.com) or go to any type of event I make sure I’m looking my best. Looking my best usually means a suit with a tie or ascot and a nice pointy shoe.
GS: Who are you channeling, fashion-wise?
CM: I like London Mod fashion/culture, old school Rat Pack/Ocean’s Eleven attire and I love Russell Brand’s style.
GS: You, of course, remind me of the dandy – of someone from a time and (sub)culture that lived for leisure, for refined & specific pleasures. How important is leisure to you? What is a typical evening (or daytime) like for you?
CM: I had never heard of a dandy until my friend Elaine Harley introduced it to me. I love the whole “dandy” aesthetic – a person who places particular importance on physical appearance, something excellent in its class. To me it’s a lifestyle. Leisure is very important to me. I work hard to play hard! Depending on the day of the week, the evening would start with dinner and then back to the house for cocktails and getting dressed to hit the town for fun with friends, dancing and continued cocktails.
GS: How do you think your appearance affects the way others respond to you? Are there any positive or negative experiences that stand out, particularly?
CM: People almost always respond to me in a positive way. My friends often tell me they can’t wait to see what I'm going to wear to certain occasions or events. For example, this year my partner and I will attend a New Year’s Eve ball for gay women of color. I plan to wear this odd-colored velvet dinner jacket, I will have my tailor reconstruct the entire collar and add more velvet accents to it. I like to express my dandyism most of the time. I think the only downfall is my friends’ expectation that I will always be “on point,” slacks and blazers. It almost makes it uncomfortable for me to show up somewhere not dressed up!
GS: I’ve seen butch & trans friends have crises over formalwear – they can’t find anything that fits or looks right, etc. Any advice on shopping, tailoring, etc.?
CM: Tailoring is definitely the key component when translating men’s fashion onto women’s bodies. If you’re shopping in the men’s department, a woman’s body shape is not going to fit the clothes properly, so we have to make sure to get our sleeves adjusted and pants hemmed or taken in depending on the size of our breasts or hips. Women’s shoulders are also more narrow than men’s, and that often means costly work on suit jackets. It can be expensive but in the end it’s worth it, because you will have an item that fits YOUR body. Also, even though you’re “butch” don't be afraid to shop in the women’s section from time to time! You’d be surprised how well some of the items fit without compromising your masculine flair.
Elaine and I have a website www.shedandy.com. It’s a work in progress but we are trying to provide a place for butch/stud women to go and view the latest in fashion, accessories, libations etc.
GS: Give us some more advice – on fashion, love, whatever.
CM: On fashion, I’d say accessories are very important. Your ties, pocket squares, tie clips, and scarves can all take a plain shirt and pants and turn the dandy on right away!
On love, I’d say fear is pointless and love like tomorrow may never come.
GS: How many pairs of glasses do you have?
CM: I had to laugh when I saw this question. My babe says it’s over 100 pairs, but I beg to differ. Probably about 75 or so! Lol – I think I might need a glasses intervention.
Chaun Martin is a supervisor for the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. She is 42 years old and lives in Los Angeles with her domestic partner of 6 years, Dana Moore. Chaun also bartends part-time and is the emcee for Chocolate and Wine parties. She is a workout fanatic.